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Rediff.com  » Business » Spectrum auction: Govt may seek time till Nov

Spectrum auction: Govt may seek time till Nov

August 07, 2012 14:27 IST

TelecomThe government may request the Supreme Court to extend the deadline for completing spectrum auction by about three months to November.

According to sources, as per the new schedule given by the agency which will operate the auction process, the bidding for the airwaves can be started only by early November.

"The bidding for spectrum is expected to start only by early November. The extension from the court will be sought accordingly," said an official source.

The empowered group of ministers on telecom on Tuesday decided to approach the apex court to seek an extension of August 31 deadline to complete the auction of airwaves.

"Auctioneer has given us schedule. . .we will approach the Supreme Court to place before them the fact what government has done.

"Also, we will place before them that in terms of this schedule, it is not possible to conduct auction by August 31," Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters after EGoM.

After cancelling 122 telecom licences in February, the Supreme Court had asked the government to complete auction by August 31 and extended the validity of quashed licences till September 7.

It is crucial for companies such as Sistema Shyam, Uninor and Videocon to win the auctions so as to be able to continue operations.

Sibal said the government will file an interim application before the court and request it to consider the facts as stated.

"As you know, (the validity of) licences has been extended till September 7. So, we will go back to the Supreme Court with interim application and request it to consider the fact as stated in the application," Sibal said.

Sources said that IA will be filed before the apex court within a week. The government will need to complete 13 processes before the actual bidding for airwaves starts.

The steps include responding to queries of potential bidders, inviting applications and giving time to companies for submissions, finalising eligible bidders, public information sessions and mock auction.

The Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has finalised Rs 14,000 crore (Rs 140 billion) as the minimum price for 5 Mhz spectrum in 1800 Mhz band, and Rs 18,200 crore for 5 Mhz in 800 Mhz band.

The base price approved by Cabinet was 22 per cent lower than Rs 18,000 crore (Rs 180 billion) minimum rate suggested by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

It is, however, 7 times higher than the price new companies had paid in 2008 to get spectrum from the then Telecom Minister A Raja.

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